The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

XVII
CHOPIN

IT is not every composer who can have two centennials of his birth celebrated, in two successive years; but Frederic Chopin achieved this seemingly impossible feat. Many authorities give the date of his birth as March 1, 1809. Some, however, including one or two who ought to have known about it, place the event in 1810. The latter date is probably right.

Chopin was born at Zelazowa Wola, near Warsaw. His father was French, and his mother Polish. From them he seemed to inherit a combination of Parisian grace and elegance with Polish intensity and patriotism. He was one of four children, two of his sisters becoming well-known writers. His father was a successful private school teacher, who imparted an atmosphere of cultivation to the family life.

Chopin at first showed an aversion to the piano. After a time, however, he took lessons under a Bohemian teacher named Zywny. These lessons must have been excellent, for they cured him of his distaste, and enabled him to appear in public when nine years old. Poland idolized him, and Warsaw called him "the new Mozart." Catalani heard his playing when he was ten, and gave him a watch; while the Czar of Russia supplemented this gift with a diamond ring.

Entering the Lyceum, where he became known for high spirits and dramatic talent, he studied composition with Joseph Elsner, and profited greatly by the lessons. In 1826 he issued his first published work, which he had preceded by several dances in manuscript. In the next year he finished his studies, and entered an active musical career.

At this time he was a great admirer of the beautiful Warsaw soprano named. Constantia Gladkowska. He dedicated some of his works to her, and stated that she had inspired the adagio of his F minor concerto. But in spite of his feelings, the couple parted quietly enough, with conventional phrases, when he set off to strange lands.

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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